Growth Cycle

Velofix Mobile Bike Shop | BCBusiness

Vancouver’s Velofix capitalizes on cycling’s upswing with an innovative mobile business

The absence of a mobile bike pro shop in the Lower Mainland seems—now that one has arrived—a gross oversight, with Cycling Canada citing annual growth in the sport of about 10 per cent, while the Bicycle Trade Association of Canada reports that sales by independent retailers jumped 21 per cent to almost $250 million from 2009 to 2010. And Vancouver is, after all, Bike City.

“I had three customers served by 9:30 a.m., half an hour before most bike shops even open,” says Velofix Holdings Ltd. certified bike mechanic Boris Martin, adding that whether a cyclist spends $3,000 or $20,000 on their ride, “their bikes are their babies. They don’t want to drop them off at a store and see them disappear into some black hole.”

It’s key to the company’s success that, in over 95 per cent of his appointments, Martin says he’s able to complete the service. It doesn’t hurt to have a big name on side, either. In April, four-time Olympian and Olympic gold-medal triathlete Simon Whitfield announced his strategic partnership and investment in Velofix, calling it “an innovative and exciting change for the bike industry.”

Call-out fees are baked into Velofix’s rates, and pricing is in line with traditional shops, but its hours are more flexible. Co-founder Chris Guillemet notes that the company’s corporate programs (events like lunch-and-learns) have been a particular hit with the business set. 

Powering the Project
Three deep-cycle marine batteries supply the van with 20 hours of power at a time, so the vehicle will never be idling outside your house. “There’s no noise pollution and it makes us more environmentally friendly,” says Martin.

Only the Van Moves
Every piece of equipment and component is designed to stay in place while the van is moving. Tools are magnetized to the wall; even the paper towel is on a ratchet holder so it won’t unravel when the van is in motion.

Some Business as Usual
You pay Velofix the same way you would a bricks-and-mortar shop: the van is completely wireless and accepts all your plastic.

All On Board
Generous built-in storage means there is almost never a need to call in parts required to fix road or mountain bikes. Spare tubes, tire levers, CO2 cartridges and lube, as well as state-of-the-art Garmin Edge bike computers, wheels and power meters are always on board.

The Shop
The Mercedes Sprinter van, the car maker’s longest, means bike technician Boris Martin has a generous 2.5- metre-tall by five-metre-long space to work in—the same size as the rooms many condo developers refer to as “dens.”

Enjoy the Process
Staff grind and press Café Artigiano beans through a Saeco espresso maker and serve it up for waiting customers alongside current cycling magazines and videos on a flat-screen TV.